Go and grab your fishing pole, it’s little Ronnie Howard. A bit bigger now, Ron Howard is better known for his career behind the camera than in front of it these days, unless you’re over sixty or a fan of “Arrested Development”. He began his acting career in the late fifties and was a television fixture all the way up to the mid eighties. So what has he been up to these days?
Ron Howard’s Early Career
Ron Howard was born on March 1st 1954 in Duncan Oklahoma he was born into an acting dynasty. His mother was actress Jean Speegle Howard and his father was director, writer and actor Rance Howard. Ron Howard began acting at age four, but his first credited appearance wouldn’t be until 1959’s “The Journey”. He appeared in a few minor roles that year, gaining national recognition in 1960 with his role as Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show”.
He played the son of the title character. The series spawned off several successful shows and a reunion in 1986 in which Howard would reprise his role. It ran for eight seasons. Ron Howard credits his family as having a grounding influence on him when growing up, it’s easy to see how it could have went wrong, young kid growing up rich and famous. He appeared in a few films in the early sixties, outside of his work with “The Andy Griffith Show”.
Once the show had ended he moved on to “The Smith Family”, opposite Henry Fonda in 1971. He finished High School in 1972 and enrolled in the University of South Carolina to study film. His academic career was cut short as in 1973 he was cast in George Lucas’ first studio film “American Graffiti”. Known for being Harrison Ford’s first film and the only reason “Star Wars” got the funding it needed, “American Graffiti” sparked something of a revival for fifties nostalgia.
That nostalgia led directly to Ron Howard’s next project. The long running and influential sitcom “Happy Days”. Well remembered for its catchy theme song and for popularizing many current genre tropes, but seriously what did happen to Chuck Cunningham? Ron Howard was the star and he used the renewed national exposure to good effect. He brokered a deal in 1976 with Roger Corman to star in his upcoming feature, “Eat My Dust” in exchange for his aid in directing his first feature film. The collaboration led to 1977’s “Grand Theft Auto”, a comedy film nothing to do with the seminal video game series.
Ron Howard The Director
Directing had always been Ron Howard’s passion and post “Happy Days” he rarely acted. His time was given over to directing full-time, working on a number of in-house NBC productions. The early eighties where when he hit big. Directing a trio of financially successful films in a row, “Night Shift”, a dark comedy, “Splash”, that god-awful rom-com starring Tom Hanks, and finally “Cocoon”. “Cocoon” was great and it won him an Oscar on top of the financial success. Ron Howard was where he wanted to be and the critical acclaim wouldn’t stop there.
In 1986 he founded Imagine Entertainment with long-time collaborator Brian Grazer. Th company produced a string of successful and acclaimed films from the late 1980’s right through until now. Most notable would be “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind”, both directed by Howard. Just one year after “A Beautiful Mind” debuted he produced and narrated what is easily my 3rd favorite comedy show of all time. In 2003 we bore witness to the convoluted hilarious majesty of “Arrested Development”.
Ron Howard would provide humorous narration and eventually appear on the show as a fictional version of himself. Though the shows original run was plagued by low ratings it was a critical darling. It was cancelled after three seasons but, much to my utter delight, was brought back by Netflix for a fourth season nearly a decade later. Season four of “Arrested Development” was less well received than the prior seasons, and I think I have a vague idea as to why. You can’t watch it once. Seriously. The fourth season takes the trademark self referential humor up to eleven. Every action is so weaved in with another action that the full depth of an episode, or even the pay off for a gag, won’t be seen until the second, third or even the forth time you watch the season. It was new, it was made for repeated binge watches. It is perfectly post-modern television. And we have Ron Howard to thank for it.
Right, now that fanboy-esque critique of season four of “Arrested Development” is out of the way, back to the actual Ron Howard stuff. In 2005 he released his most award nominated film to date. “Cinderella Man” received more than 22 nominations, winning only two by my count though. It grossed well, though not nearly as well as 2006’s “The Da Vinci Code” the long-awaited film adaptation of the Dan Brown drivel of the same name. He followed it up with the terrific “Frost/Nixon” based on the infamous interview between David Frost and former U.S. President Richard Milhous Nixon. He would also release a follow-up to “The Da Vinci Code” called “Angels and Demons”.
What is Ron Howard doing now in 2018?
Ron was busy last year, with a fair few films released on his label. 2017 has already been jammed packed, with Genius, Mars already on TV. 2017 will see the release of a number of films produced by Howard. Zelda, about the wife of F Scott, The Girl Before, My Stroke of Insight and a few others. Most exciting is the film version of The Dark Tower, the critically acclaimed Stephen King Fantasy series. Arrested Development Season 5 was not released last year, so perhaps we’ll see it this year. Issues with the fourth season were plentiful, mostly due to acting commitments, and it has been confirmed that the entire cast will be present to film the ensemble comedy classic, so that’s good news. On the driecting front Ron will be at the helm of three films, The aforementioned Zelda and The Girl Before, as well as Seveneves, a science fiction film about the end of the world.